“It’s a call option on a late-stage, potential blockbuster drug for Amgen,” as put by Michael Yee, an RBC Capital analyst in a Bloomberg interview.
A deal with $ 425m in an upfront payment is quite rare these days, validating the blockbuster potential further. As an oncolytic virus, it also has potential across multiple tumor types beyond melanoma, as commented also by Roger Perlmutter, Amgen’s executive vice president for R&D: “The virus should be generally applicable in tumor settings.” And finally, the deal this large is a sign of the strong data being generated from the ongoing Phase III program, likely to complete in the immediate near-future.
For oncolytic virus companies this is great news. The first top industry partner has validated what the oncolytic virus companies already know: viruses as “dual mechanism cancer therapies” – both killing cancer cells and inducing anti-tumor immune response – represent one of the most promising new strategies to treat cancer.